Scientists find the hidden risks of whole-body scans

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Recently, Kim Kardashian shared on Instagram about her whole-body MRI scan, praising its benefits and suggesting her followers try it out.

While the idea might sound appealing—after all, who doesn’t want to be extra sure about their health?—medical experts caution that these scans might do more harm than good for most people.

Scans Might Make You Worry Over Nothing

Matthew Davenport, a doctor who specializes in using medical imaging like MRIs to diagnose diseases, says that these scans often turn up “incidental findings.”

These are small oddities that wouldn’t usually have been found and are not causing any harm. About 15% to 30% of all scans show at least one of these findings.

According to Davenport, this type of screening is likely to point out slow-growing or even non-growing diseases rather than dangerous, fast-moving ones. You might end up worrying a lot about something that’s actually not a big deal.

Patients who get these incidental findings often end up with unnecessary treatments. These treatments can be costly, cause stress, and sometimes even harm you physically.

Davenport points out, “Most of these small issues don’t need treatment. Trying to treat them can actually cause more problems, both emotionally and physically.”

In simple terms, getting a scan like this might make you think you’re sicker than you are, which can make you feel stressed and anxious.

It could even lead you to get more tests or treatments that you don’t really need, wasting both time and money.

Know When a Scan is Really Needed

Doctors don’t recommend whole-body MRI scans for everyone. These scans are usually suggested only for people who have specific medical histories that warrant it.

If you have a high genetic risk for certain kinds of dangerous cancers or if you’re showing symptoms of a serious illness, then medical imaging might be appropriate for you.

Before diving into any treatment, it’s crucial to talk with your primary care physician about any concerns you may have.

Your doctor can guide you on the best path to diagnosis and treatment, balancing the risks and benefits of different approaches.

Ignorance Can Sometimes Be Bliss

For most people, knowing every tiny detail about their body’s internal workings might not be beneficial. If a scan reveals things that aren’t causing problems, you could end up worrying for no good reason.

In fact, according to Davenport, the emotional stress from false alarms often outweighs the benefits for the majority of patients.

“There’s a reason no major medical society recommends whole-body MRI screening for people who are generally healthy and not showing symptoms of disease,” Davenport adds.

So the next time a celebrity offers medical advice, remember that what works for them might not be the best for you.

If you’re concerned about your health, the first step should be a conversation with your doctor, not an expensive, potentially unnecessary, and anxiety-inducing scan.

The research findings can be found in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

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